Movie Review: Present Tense (2013)
In Belmin Soylemez’s feature debut Present Tense, recent divorcee Mina (Sanem Oge) harbors one dream: to move to America. After struggling to find a job, Mina takes a position at Istanbul’s Galaxy Cafe reading fortunes in coffee cups. Her yearning to escape is represented by the constant changing of her pay into American dollars. But as much as Mina wishes to flee, she finds herself being drawn into a family of sorts when she befriends fellow fortune reader Fazi (Senay Aydin) and cafe owner Tayfun (Ozan Bilen).
The pace of Present Tense is slow and deliberate, which might initially feel frustrating for Western audiences. But the slow burn of Mina’s life serves to highlight the suffocating oppression she feels in a culture that dismisses women and a city that offers little opportunity to anyone. Lead Sanem Oge, a stunning beauty if ever there was one, delivers a smoldering performance that expresses Mina’s intense longing. If Present Tense is the kind of debut Soylemez can produce, I can’t wait to see the films she makes in the future.
Present Tense is screening as part of Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Thursday, August 22 at 6:30 pm. For more information and to purchase tickets visit http://tiff.net.
A Gallery of Images from Present Tense